Dublin, Ireland: On a crisp, bright morning in Dublin, worshippers sit on prayer mats spaced across a sport pitch, listening to a woman dressed head-to-toe in white recite the Quran.
From over the looming, concrete walls of the stadium, Catholic prayers barked into a microphone can be heard from the “rosary rally” protest outside.
Ireland’s hallowed sporting grounds, Croke Park, opened its doors to Muslims this Eid al-Adha so that they could gather in large numbers for the first time since the country’s coronavirus lockdown put strict limits on all indoor religious services.
Initially, the organisers had hoped 500 worshippers could attend Friday’s event, but a surge in new COVID-19 cases delayed an expected easing of restrictions.
Instead, only 200 people were allowed on the field, suitably spaced apart, aside from some children who stayed close to their parents, running around the prayer mats in circles or waving miniature Irish flags.
For many of the worshippers, Friday’s event was also a cherished opportunity to celebrate their dual identities – they are Muslim and Irish, and proud to be both.
“The Kaaba is the pulse and heart of the Muslim world,” said Karen Kirwan, the ceremony’s MC. “Well, Croke Park is the heartbeat of all the Irish people here in Ireland. It’s where we are drawn to.”